Lions beat writer Kyle Meinke:
The most impressive rookie of minicamp, easily, has been tailback Ameer Abdullah. It's hard to say much of anything substantive about a tailback, when there are no pads and no contact, but for whatever it's worth, Abdullah has looked like Detroit's best rusher with Joique Bell still out. He's smooth in his breaks, and his first- and second-step acceleration is plus-plus. He just looks comfortable, which you can't always say about a rookie tailback. Again, at this level, where everyone is fast and physical, the true hallmarks of a good rusher are vision and tackle-breaking ability, neither of which can be seen until the pads come on. But you have to like the early returns from the second-round pick.
Most scouts seem to agree that Abdullah doesn’t project to be an every-down back, so Joique Bell’s between-the-tackles role should be safe, at least for this season. On the other hand, Theo Riddick’s role as the Lions’ third-down back is in serious jeopardy. With a small early-down role and significant time on passing downs, Abdullah could ultimately post top 25 numbers in PPR formats. He has upside from there if he's able to bite into Bell's workload.
Rookie receiver Kevin White was held out of the entire minicamp this week with what John Fox indicated was an undisclosed medical issue. The Bears coach, however, said he fully expects White on the field for the first training camp practice July 30.
Conley may beat out Albert Wilson for WR2 duties if he keeps this up. It's not a high-flying offense, but Conley may be fantasy relevant by the end of the year.
Fantasy football fanatics and anxious Browns fans are wondering: Will it be Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson or Terrance West carrying the torch Sept. 13 against the New York Jets? The Browns view all three as legitimate threats with the rock in their hand, but there is no clear favorite in guessing who will lead Cleveland in carries in December.
“I like to go with the guy that has the hot hand. If a guy’s got the hot hand, ride it out,” DeFilippo said. “You’re going to have some gameplan-specific plays for certain guys like a Duke Johnson where you want to get him out on a pass route or running a certain outside zone or whatever. I’m a big believer in the best five offensive linemen up front. I’m a big believer in a guy’s got a hot hand you keep riding him. That’s kind of just a philosophy that I have.”
Once the Browns were done with Ben Tate (Week 11), Crowell out-touched Terrance West 90 to 68 over the final seven games, but West had the last laugh, turning 20 touches into 106 yards and a TD against the Ravens in Week 17. (A seemingly healthy Crowell touched the ball five times for 22 yards.) The team drafted Duke Johnson and last season HC Mike Pettine was handing out touches based on practice performance, so Crowell's current 6th round ADP seems steep given his uncertain workload and Cleveland's projected offensive struggles.
Jaguars WR Allen Robinson has been the star of the offseason program, showing big-play ability all over the field and most noticeably in and around the end zone.
"He's been unbelievable," quarterback Blake Bortles said as the Jaguars wrapped up a mandatory, three-day minicamp. "He's definitely a threat now in the red zone. ... He's physical. He can run and do everything out in the open field, so he's been fun to throw to."
Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game.
Williams was competing for a pass against first-round pick cornerback Byron Jones over the middle of the field in team drills and came down awkwardly on his left arm. Williams suffered a bruised left elbow, and X-rays came back negative.Williams was competing for a pass against first-round pick cornerback Byron Jones over the middle of the field in team drills and came down awkwardly on his left arm. Williams suffered a bruised left elbow, and X-rays came back negative.
The injury doesn't sound too serious. Williams has finished in the top 20 in fantasy points per target in each of his two seasons, but he doesn't see enough targets to be a reliable fantasy option. In fact, his targets dropped from 74 as a rookie to 66 in his sophomore season even though his snaps jumped 18.5% year over year. If the Cowboys move to a pass-heavy offense, then Williams should be fantasy relevant, though he's still competing with Jason Witten and Cole Beasley for Dez Bryant's leftovers.
It was an impressive performance Thursday from the former undrafted free agent from Tennessee-Martin, who spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve with a shoulder injury last year.
"Jeremy Butler, he might have had 1,500 yards in a three-day minicamp," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "He was incredible. He caught the ball extremely well. Little things here and there to work on, but the biggest thing is catching the ball.
"He's just a big, strong body and catches the ball really well. It's exactly what he showed last year in training camp, I thought, and he's just coming out here and doing more of that."
The Ravens need playmakers to step up at the receiver position. The 6'2" Butler could quickly work his way into playing time if he continues to have a good offseason.
On Thursday, the Giants completed a mandatory three-day minicamp that was encouraging from an offensive standpoint, despite the absence of the injured star receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz. The play-calling was crisp. Assignments were executed. Routes were run as designed. And Eli Manning was repeatedly on time and on target with his throws.
The Giants are operating with a certainty that was missing last year throughout the off-season, training camp and the start of the regular season. Players are no longer thinking before they act. They grasp the playbook and allow their athleticism to take over.
Manning added: “I feel we are doing things a little bit crisper, a little bit faster.”
Manning finished the season as the #10 fantasy quarterback, but was #2 over the final six weeks, when OC Ben McAdoo said that the team finally played the way it wanted to play. In Odell Beckham, Manning finally has a stud receiver. The free agent signing of receiving specialist Shane Vereen and the return of a (hopefully) healthy Victor Cruz give Manning two more weapons to utilize in the passing game. He looks like a great value for those who want to wait on the position until the 9th or 10th round.
"You're doing things at the line of scrimmage, changing plays with him, (depending on) how they're playing him leverage-wise," quarterback Alex Smith said, per ESPN.com. "He wants a different route so he can get the football. Yesterday in practice, I can hear him make calls at the line of scrimmage because he wants the football.
"Things like that are encouraging. Obviously, he's a tremendous player, but it's so great to kind of see that confidence there on the field, him calling for when he wants the football. As a quarterback, that's encouraging. You want a bunch of guys out there that are feeling good about their matchup and want the football."
Kelce played 54% of the snaps from Week 1 to Week 10, averaging 3.8 catches for 49 yards and 0.44 TD in that span. He played 86% from Week 11 on, posting 4.7 receptions for 61 yards and 0.14 TD over the final seven games of the season. The rise in fantasy points wasn’t as dramatic since his touchdowns didn’t increase with his playing time, but that should rectify itself in 2015. He was the #4 TE in both standard and PPR formats in the final seven weeks of the season and is likely to go in the top 5 at his position in 2015 fantasy drafts.
Cleveland Browns Daily hosts Nathan Zegura and Matt Wilhelm did not sugarcoat their feelings for Taylor Gabriel: They both think he’s been the best wide receiver on the team during the offseason program and that he could shatter the 621 receiving yards he posted as a rookie.
At this point it is clear that Mark Sanchez is ahead of San Bradford when it comes to his ability to move the offense. Sanchez was on fire during both the seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills, getting his team into the endzone twice. Sanchez's best throw of the day came to tight end Brent Celek, who he hit for a touchdown over the fingertips of two defenders. If head coach Chip Kelly really does open up the competition at quarterback, Bradford has his work cut out for him.
We're expecting Bradford to win the job, but if Sanchez continues to play efficiently, Bradford will have to play that much better to win the job in training camp. Whoever wins the job should offer high-end QB2 numbers in Chip Kelly's offense.
Patriots beat writer Ben Volin discussed the pecking order in the team's backfield:
“LeGarrette Blount certainly has the leg up for the primary first down power back. He clearly has an edge over Jonas Gray and anyone else. Besides Blount, it’s kind of a hodge podge of guys who don’t have experience. [Offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels thinks that’s okay, because he doesn’t mind having a little competition,” Volin said.
“[Cadet] has more experience in the NFL. He caught 38 passes in the Saints system and is really an explosive runner. James White is coming into his second year, so we’ll see what he can do in training camp,” Volin added. “[White] redshirted last year after having a productive career at Wisconsin, so maybe he wasn’t picking up the offense as quickly as he could have been.”
Regular readers know we're very high on Blount given his ADP. In his last 15 games with the Patriots (including the postseason), he has turned 14.4 touches into 75 yards and 1.0 TD; those are strong and low-end RB1 numbers in standard and PPR formats, respectively. Whoever wins the "passing down" role will become fantasy relevant in PPR formats, but if Cadet and White share the role, neither will be particularly attractive.
We've updated our projections for Johnson since he's generating so much buzz in the passing game. We now have him for 45 catches for 294 yards, which makes him a low-end RB3 in PPR formats. He has upside from there if he turns into a Darren Sproles/Danny Woodhead type. The Browns didn't throw the ball much to their running backs last season, but there's a new offensive coordinator in town, so anything could happen. His ADP is currently in the 8th round.
Third-round draft pick Justin Hardy has made a good first impression on some of his fellow skill position players. On Tuesday, Matt Ryan praised the WR for his consistent improvements; today, Julio Jones commended Hardy for the way he’s responded to challenges thrown his way.
Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was as good as a $96 million player could be in Wednesday's minicamp practice. He threw seven touchdowns and no interceptions, made good decisions, threw accurate passes, showed good footwork and pocket presence.
Tannehill, who received a lucrative contract extension in the offseason, has played well throughout the offseason program, and Wednesday was one of his best practices. Tannehill, frequently criticized for his inability to throw deep, even connected with wide receiver Jarvis Landry on a beautifully thrown 45-yard touchdown pass. He later hooked up with veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings on a 75-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
"I feel really comfortable in this offense right now in the sense of knowing exactly where everyone is supposed to be," Tannehill said, "and being more of a coach on the field this year as opposed to trying to learn the whole system with everyone else like I did last year."
In his first three seasons, Tannehill finished #24, #16 and finally #9 in quarterback scoring. That’s a nice trend. The Dolphins spent the offseason trying to upgrade his weapons, and ended up with Jordan Cameron at tight end to go along with Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Greg Jennings at receiver. Sure, they traded away Mike Wallace and let Charles Clay walk, but that trio (and the emerging Jarvis Landry) should be able to more than offset those losses. Tannehill has a good coordinator in Bill Lazor and host of weapons to utilize. He looks like a very safe pick in the 9th round.